AN: This is going to be a short story- only 5 chapters in all, and I will post the final chapter on Valentine's Day.
Yes, the verb tenses change between POV's- it's intentional, and will make sense at the end, I hope.


Bella POV
They were sitting in the corner of the cafeteria, as far away from my table as you could get. There were five of them, two girls and three boys, all sitting strangely still and looking away from each other, away from their table, away from everyone in the room. Their food sat in front of them untouched, their milk cartons unopened, almost like props on a movie set. And speaking of movies, that's exactly what they looked like- movie stars. Inhumanly beautiful, with perfectly symmetrical faces, beautifully proportioned and toned bodies, and hair that belonged on a runway.

I took the time to study them, as they were not looking my direction, and took note of their body language. The giant boy with curly black hair had one meaty arm around the statuesque blonde. She was leaning into him slightly, her face giving nothing away, but her eyes softened each time he stroked her hair. Her perfectly manicured hand rested on his right knee as if it had been there for years. They were clearly comfortable with one another.

The boy with the wild copper hair was sitting tensely with his elbows on the table and his face in his hands. His shoulders were raised with stress, or irritation, and his left leg tapped restlessly on the floor. As I watched, the girl with the short spiky hair took her hand and rested it on his knee, much like the other couple, to still his movement. He looked at her gratefully with a tight smile, before folding his arms to rest his face on them.

Under the table, her hand slowly crept higher on his thigh until it was near his hip, with her fingers curling dangerously next to his crotch. She wasn't looking at him, but at the blond beside her, giving him a pensive look that was almost cold and calculating. Her hand barely moved where she left it, rubbing along the inseam of Copper's jeans in a decidedly teasing manner.

By this time my neighbor had noticed my fixation and began to fill me in on the Cullen "dirt." She explained that they were all adopted and engaged in quasi-incestual relationships with their "siblings." What surprised me was how she paired them off. Blondie and the bear were a couple, obviously, but she said the spiky-haired girl was dating the blond to her left, not the ginger to her right. Was she sure? I asked her. Yes, she was sure.

I nodded my dubious agreement as I turned my attention to the final Cullen. His back was to me, but I could still see a lot. His hair was multi-faceted blond, with highlights my mother would have paid a fortune for. It curled wildly on his head, stopping just short of his chin. Occasionally he would tuck a stubborn strand back behind his ear and I found myself longing to do the same. He was slouched in his chair, radiating comfort and ease, with his long legs crossed at the ankle underneath the table. He was dressed sharply, like the rest of his family, in dark wash jeans and an ivory sweater, but I had a strange flash of him wearing dirty cowboy boots and a poplin shirt.

His arm rested casually on the back of his "girlfriend's" chair, but she sat forward, almost blatantly avoiding his touch. His face was turned to the window nearest him, gaze locked on the rainy forest outside. Despite his laid-back appearance, I got the distinct impression that he was feeling trapped. I felt a longing to comfort him, ease whatever burden he was carrying, and as if my eyes were drawing him, he turned and caught my stare.

His eyes seemed dark from across the crowded room, but I couldn't make out the color, guessing them to be brown. I was filled with a sense of warmth as we looked at one another and his face and eyes seemed to brighten slightly, with a small smile tugging at one corner of his full lips. I physically ached to touch him when one soft curl fell over his brow line, causing him to once again brush it back behind his ear. My fingers clenched tight with longing.

The bell broke our stare and he dipped his head to me slightly, like a cowboy in an old western, though I had no idea why that comparison came to mind. He rose gracefully from his seat, following his "siblings" from the room, and I stared after him until Angela pulled me from my thoughts, telling me it was time to get to our next class.

Jasper POV
Another day stuck in this boring pseudo-life. High school. What a joke. I'm over 160 years old, not 16. I've killed thousands of humans and vampires alike, and my punishment is to spend eternity in a purgatory filled with hormonal adolescents. My brother, Peter, can't stop laughing every time I call to complain.

I would leave the Cullens and move back home with my real family, if it wasn't for Alice. My "mate." Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate all she has done for me in getting my diet changed, and I enjoy having Carlisle and Esme in my life, along with Emmett and Rosalie, but that bitch Edward gets on my very last nerve.

He tips his head and sneers at me when he hears my rather loud thoughts. Don't like it, stay the fuck outta my head. Stupid little prissy boy. He's the only one that needs to be here; the rest of us are way too old for this shit. Well, Alice fits here too. She's trying to fill in her lost human memories by making up new ones based on the pathetic lives of the teenagers around us.

Her annoying little voice cuts into my thoughts like nails on a chalkboard. "I don't know why all the humans are so excited about the new girl. She's not special like us or anything." Her jealousy, along with Rose's, undercuts her true feelings on the subject. Obviously the humans think she is special, and that grates on Ali's nerves.

The level of anticipation in the room jumps dramatically just as the cafeteria doors usher in a fresh batch of students. At the same time, Edward's bloodlust spikes higher than I have ever felt from him before. He covers his face with his tense hands and I see a tremor in his arms from the stress of holding back. Damn it, Eddie, next time you skip the family hunt to go shopping with my wife, you need to remember you're not the only one who suffers from your thirst.

"I can't help it, Jasper! I don't know what's wrong. I've never felt this way before!" His voice is hushed and strained and I feel a brief pang of sympathy that I quickly realize is not my own. Personally, I feel nothing but disgust for that prissy little daddy's boy.

"It's ok, Edward, I don't see you slipping or anything. I think you can stay at school safely. Jasper is the one I'm not sure about. I can't see anything about his next class." She turns to me with doubt and worry evident on her face and her emotions. Thanks for the faith, babe. Glad you trust me.

I focus my attention in the direction of the new girl, trying to see if she is suspicious of us, since Eddie isn't volunteering any information on her thoughts. "That's because I can't hear her, Jasper. I don't know what she's thinking." Really now? That's very interesting. No one has been able to block Edward's gift before, and I have to turn my head to the window to hide my self-satisfied smirk.

Searching out her unfamiliar emotions, I find a rush of curiosity, skepticism and the normal lust that I'm used to feeling from the teenagers we spend our days with. What strikes me is the strength of the emotions, the purity and lack of hesitation. This person feels deeply, and doesn't shy away from her emotions. As Eddie drops his head to the table, I feel Alice drawing away from me again. I leave my arm on her chair just to irritate her, knowing her lack of patience for PDA of any kind. I brush my hair back out of my face and almost fall over when the intense wave of longing and desire strikes me.

These feelings aren't directed toward my family in general; they are coming straight at me. My eyes darken in response, and the pull is too strong for me to resist. I turn my head and lock eyes with the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.

Her eyes are wide pools of chocolate brown that I can't help but imagine a bright newborn red. Her skin is fair, only slightly darker than my own, although a flattering blush stains her cheeks when she meets my gaze.

She shows no discomfort as we lock eyes, and her emotions remain strong and true- deep longing, mingled with desire, and an odd note of protectiveness. No one other than Peter has ever felt protective of me, and that was only at my lowest point after we left Maria. The idea that this small human girl is feeling this way leaves me confused and oddly comforted. I find myself offering her a smile, something I don't hand out easily.

Another rush of desire fills me, and it takes me a minute to realize it's my own. I want this girl. I need her, in a way I have never needed anyone else before. Just a shared glance across a crowded room and a small taste of her emotions has me desperate to speak to her, to flesh out her deepest secrets, to offer myself to her for her own dissection.

The bell catches me off guard, and I reluctantly tear my eyes away from my beauty, offering her only a slight nod in parting. For a minute I panic that Edward has heard my traitorous thoughts, but he and Alice are locked in one of their annoying silent conversations on their way out of the cafeteria.

The rest of my family doesn't even notice that I am the last one out the door. Would they notice if I left? If I just kept walking all the way home? Or all the way to my real home with my real family? Something tells me my brown-eyed girl would notice.

As if I conjured her with my thoughts, the most enticing aroma I have ever smelled drifts ahead of my mysterious beauty. She is in my class! History has always been my least favorite class; they can't get anything right in these damn textbooks. But an hour with my belle changes this to a small slice of heaven.

I sit up in anticipation as the teacher points her to the only available seat- directly in front of me. Most humans are understandably uncomfortable sitting with a vampire breathing down their neck, when I can't avoid breathing, that is.

Her heart jumps when she looks up and sees me sitting here. I gift her another lazy grin and prepare to allay her fear that will surely come when she is closer to me, but the fear never comes. A blush graces her cheeks again, and I feel a twinge of self-conscious embarrassment, but she still feels the longing, desire, and that god-damn wave of protectiveness. I can't resist tasting her heavenly scent, and as I take a breath I realize she does not stir my thirst at all. In all my years I have never met a human that didn't set my throat on fire, but this girl is utterly unique. She is a complete enigma.

We both seem to realize we're blatantly staring at each other at the exact same moment and my voice covers hers as we speak.

"I'm Jasper-"

"Hi, I'm Bella-"

We smile and laugh off the awkwardness before I nod in her direction so she will speak again. "Sorry, I'm Bella Swan. Did you say your name was Jasper?"

There is a hint of deception, only enough that I know she was already well aware of my name before introducing herself. Not that it's her fault, everyone knows the Cullens. I realize when I hear her name that this is the girl that Edward can't hear and Alice can't see. So why can I feel her? Why can I breathe in her luscious scent without needing a taste of her sweet nectar? And why the hell does she want to protect someone like me?

I realize she is feeling expectant and I have rudely waited too long to answer my beautiful girl. "Yes, darlin', I'm Jasper Wh- Hale. Jasper Hale." What the hell was that? I almost told her my real name, and I didn't even attempt to cover my accent that Alice despises so much. Alice. She said she couldn't see this hour, so she can't see anything I say or do in here...

With a wicked smirk, I take Bella's hand in mine and try to think around the sharp tingle of electricity traveling between us. I slowly bring her hand to my lips, where I brush a kiss across her knuckles. "It's a pleasure to meet you, my Belle."

Impossibly, her blush darkens, filling the air around us with her delicious floral scent. A hint of strawberry and lilac fills me with a sharp sense of home. Not my vampire home with my brother and sister, but my human home. Jasper Whitlock's home.

The teacher calls attention to the front and she reluctantly turns, bringing my focus to her thick, flowing brown hair. I physically ache to run my fingers through it, and when one lone curl falls atop my open textbook I give in to the taboo and lift it gently between my thumb and forefinger. Soft as silk, I rub it gently, stroking softly, completely absorbed in the texture and scent before me.

"Mr. Hale?" My head shoots up and I drop the curl like it's a burning ember. Bella's eyes aren't the only ones on me as the teacher has caught me unaware for the first time in my entire immortal life. I have no idea what he asked or what answer he is seeking.

I clear my throat unnecessarily and finally speak, "I'm sorry, sir, I didn't hear the question." I have to choke back a growl when the room full of children begin laughing at the most feared vampire of the south, the Southern Major, the God of War. Bella's surge of indignant anger is the only thing that holds my demon back, as she glares around at our immature classmates. Her protectiveness is no longer unexpected, and is oddly comforting, bordering on familiar. I begin to think I might be in deep shit here.

Bella POV
I had the strangest urge to get up and strangle everyone who laughed at Jasper. What was wrong with these people? Did they not see how beautiful he was, or the pain he was hiding behind his gentle smiles and slow drawl? I needed him. I needed to hold him, and stroke his hair, and trace his gorgeous full lips with my fingers. I needed to tuck my head into his neck and breathe in his scent, the faint scent I could only smell lightly when he moved behind me in his desk. Tobacco and leather and something else, something manly. My hand still tingled from his cool touch and soft lips that felt firm, and colder than I expected.

I knew he was angry. I wasn't sure how I knew, but I did. I reached my hand back slowly, palm facing up, in a silent offer of comfort, solidarity, and support. I had no idea what I was thinking; I had never been this forward with a boy before. Of course, Jasper didn't really strike me as a "boy." He was all man, despite his age. It felt like hours, but I'm sure it was only a few seconds before he took my hand carefully in his much larger one, holding it as if it was the finest crystal, as if he might crush it if he squeezed too hard.

Cool breath ghosted across my neck as he leaned up to whisper in my ear, "Thanks, darlin'. I needed that." I shivered as his lips grazed the shell of my ear, leaving a trail of goosebumps over my entire body. I could feel my cheeks heat up in a blush and I swore I heard Jasper take a deep breath behind me. My thoughts were a blur for the rest of the class. My hand was released just before the bell rang, and I gathered my books before turning to face my new obsession.

His eyes were darker than they were before. I had decided earlier that they were a pale hazel, an odd golden tone that I had never seen before. Now they were closer to my shade, a dark brown, almost black with intensity. His voice made my knees weak when he spoke lowly, "You wanna get outta here?"

I nodded without hesitation, taking his outstretched hand and lacing my fingers with his. The strange electric current moved through my body, and I subconsciously stepped closer to him as we walked out the door.

He led me to the parking lot where he suddenly drew up short. A single word shot ice water through my veins and his hand tightened almost painfully around mine as he spat out her name like a curse.

"Alice."